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Monday, 27 July 2015 15:25

I equip you because you are called

Sr Genevieve Ryan rsj 150Vocation cannot be reduced to a state of life like priesthood or marriage or religious life, but our true consecration to God is uniquely personal; it belongs to the deepest Self and was initiated at Baptism where God calls us to be an image of Christ, writes Sr Genevieve Ryan rsj.

I love the title ‘Take the Plunge’ that Timothy Radcliffe OP uses for his book on Baptism. It reminds us that in Baptism we are plunged into the mystery of Jesus Christ. At our Baptism, God discerns the “face” of Jesus in each of us and calls us to be that image of Christ. A personal vocation is bestowed on us –a unique God-given meaning is given to each one’s life. We receive the gift of faith. As we begin to live in faith, we make the astonishing discovery that we have been chosen and that “God’s choice of us precedes our choice of God.”

Vocation cannot be reduced to a state of life like priesthood or marriage or religious life. Those commitments may indeed give us a valuable, functional way of living out our personal vocation in communion with others but our true consecration to God is uniquely personal; it belongs to the deepest Self and was initiated at Baptism.

Recently a young man was tapping his way around my home testing for termites. We got talking about faith matters.

He admitted to being a disillusioned Catholic. With shining eyes, however, he shared an illuminating experience he had as a 16 year-old. I asked him what meaning he’d taken from the experience. He replied, ‘Ever since, I feel confident in my heart that I belong to God who calls me to be a just man.’

I was privileged to hear how God’s grace flowing from his Baptism, re-ignited in his youthful heart, had awakened the unique meaning of his life. He certainly had his God-given identity and life-script.

As life moves on, the dynamic character of our personal vocation may grow and take on a specific ‘life-form’. It may also fade from consciousness, or take on new aspects but it will forever carry God’s promise, “I have called you by your name; you are mine.”

“A vocation is not a once-for-all call in young adulthood to follow this career or enter this religious congregation. It is a life-long conversation with God. Like any rich conversation, it is patterned by periods of spirited exchange, times of strain and argument, and intervals of silence. To be faithful entails more than recalling an early invitation; it requires that we remain in the conversation. Our fidelity must be mobile because the conversation continues.” Seasons of Strength, Evelyn and James Whitehead

As the following story shows, we are not left unaided to answer our vocational call.

When the lights dimmed at a Paderewski concert, the mother of a four year old boy, discovered with panic that her child was missing. Suddenly, spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. Aghast, she saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, picking out “Twinkle, twinkle Little Star”.

On cue, Paderewski made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear: “Don’t quit. Keep playing. ” With his left hand he began filling in a bass part. His right hand reached around the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the youngster transformed this situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was mesmerised.

God’s message to each chosen one is: “Don’t stop. Keep performing. Keep loving. Keep creating. Keep transforming.

I have not called you because you are equipped. I equip you because you are called.”

This article was first published in the 8 July 2015 edition of Mary MacKillop E-News, the monthly e-newsletter of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.